Maidenhead shul to only have online services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
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Maidenhead shul to only have online services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Reform synagogue's Rabbi Jonathan Romain says the decision was taken 'reluctantly', but Covid restrictions mean gatherings of hundreds of people won't be available

Maidenhead synagogue has become one of the first shuls in the country to announce it will only be providing online services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The community’s rabbi, Jonathan Romain, said: “The decision to live-stream was taken reluctantly but it will not be possible to hold gatherings of several hundred people.”

To make it more authentic he’s asking congregants to “put on shul clothes, sit on a chair and wear a tallit.”

He added: “There will be a chance to say hello to each other in a Zoom kiddush after.”

The move comes as shuls up and down the country are consulting members about their approach to holding services.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain

Adaptions will include shofar blowing taking place outdoors and holding several different services at the same time.

One of the options in the United Synagogue survey is whether congregants would consider participating in services off-site.

Jerry Patterson, a member of 40 years at Golders Green United Synagogue told Jewish News: “I ticked no to that option as my wife and I are traditionalists and its special to be in this beautiful shul on the big occasions.”

The 73- year-old added, “I don’t see any risk in attending, as long as people keep a distance and wear masks. Everyone brings their own prayer books so there’s no need to touch anything. It’s going to be a bit perfunctionary but everyone who goes will get a lift from being present at shul in these mad times.”

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain

Dan Cade, a 39-year-old from Bushey, said,:”I feel it’s more risky than we imagine in particular if cases go up. I also don’t think it will be very enjoyable with masks on and not really being able to mingle which is so important to many.”

Cllr Stephen Greek, of Hertsmere Council, said: “I hope to get to shul but like everyone else this will be a strange new year for us. Normally we enjoy taking the kids to shul and speaking to friends and spending loads of family time. However, this year we will have to find new ways to make the Holidays special”.

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